Historic Commellini Estate launches old world-inspired Italian restaurant Tavola Calda

click to enlarge Historic Commellini Estate launches old world-inspired Italian restaurant Tavola Calda (2)
Through Stories Photography, courtesy Commellini Estate
The historic venue in northwest Spokane is launching its new restaurant, Tavola Calda, this weekend.
You don’t need to be a wedding guest to enjoy scratch-made Italian meals on the scenic grounds of the historic Commellini Estate in northwest Spokane.

The family-owned estate, located at 14715 N. Dartford Drive, which operates as a popular private venue for weddings and other special events, this month launched its new on-site restaurant, Tavola Calda.

Translated from Italian, the name means “hot table.” Tavola Calda’s menu features longtime favorites from the estate’s founders, Albert and Leda Commellini, and their descendants. While many of these dishes, like Leda’s famous chicken cacciatore, are available through Commellini Estate’s retail food market (available to order online for pickup and sold at local farmers markets), guests can now enjoy it and other Old World-inspired Italian recipes at a table or a picnic blanket on the grass when visiting Tavola Calda.

Tavola Calda’s grand opening this weekend is July 16 and 17, from 4 pm to close each day. Estate co-owner Lauri Seghetti says the restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday at those same hours unless the venue is hosting a private event, which will be communicated to guests on its social media pages.

“With this, we get to showcase our artisan handcrafted meals that we have done all along,” Seghetti says. “This is also more casual dining.”

click to enlarge Historic Commellini Estate launches old world-inspired Italian restaurant Tavola Calda (3)
Commellini Estate
Enjoy Leda Commellini's famous fettuccine Alfredo in the lush outdoor setting of the historic estate.
Portions are large and thus shareable, including several appetizers and sides, like the antipasto platter ($16) and fresh-baked focaccia bread ($6). Commellini family recipes for traditional Italian sauces and pasta dishes are menu highlights, including spaghetti with Leda’s meat sauce ($11), as well as the estate’s classic fettuccine Alfredo ($10). For desert, there’s tiramisu ($8). Beer, wine and cocktails are also available from the bar.

“Our chicken cacciatore and fettuccine Alfredo are Leda’s signature dishes she was very famous for back in the day,” Seghetti says. “People came from miles away outside of Spokane to have those.”

Guests order food and drinks in a counter-service format, and food is delivered in single-use containers to wherever they choose to sit on the property, which totals 200 acres and first opened as an event venue in 1941.

“It’s all in single-use containers so you can take it and leave, or dine along the pond or creek, or on the deck or inside,” Seghetti says.

This open-seating format works well with current pandemic restrictions on public gatherings, while also allowing guests to explore the estate’s lush, picturesque grounds in the Little Spokane River watershed. And it allows the Seghetti family to make up a little for lost event bookings this year, while utilizing the space in a way they’d long envisioned.

Lauri and her husband Robert, a great-nephew of Albert and Leda Commellini, along with their daughter Desiree, took over the venue in 2009. Prior to that, after Leda was unable to manage the venue on her own in the late 1970s, the family had leased out the venue to other operators, who also ran a restaurant there. Between 2009 and now, however, Commellini Estate had only been open to the public for special reservation-based dinners.

“The real focus was our events — weddings, anniversaries, corporate parties; any event you could think of,” Seghetti says. “We never opened as a restaurant, but it was in the back of our mind that we’d maybe figure out how to do it along with the events. The pandemic kind of allowed us to rethink.”

Commellini Estate was on track to have its busiest June ever in terms of private events, but that was before the pandemic set the pause button on big gatherings. On the positive side, Seghetti says that most of the events booked for June 2020 have been rescheduled to later this year or next year, and some even into 2022. Because of the estate’s expansive size which allows for spaced-out seating, some events this summer have also been able to take place as planned.

For customers who aren’t able to visit Tavola Calda to dine on premises, Commellini Estate’s Italian marketplace offers reheatable portions of its classic sauces, baked goods, entrees and family-style meal kits that can be preordered for pickup at the estate, and are also sold at three local farmers markets; in Fairwood, Liberty Lake and Kendall Yards.